RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Chile expect to come up against a resurgent Spain team on Wednesday after the thumping defeat suffered by the world champions in their opening World Cup match, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said.
“The Spanish players will of course get over what happened with the Netherlands, with all their maturity and experience,” Sampaoli said, referring to Spain’s shock 5-1 defeat on Friday.
“It’s not as if they are no longer one of the best teams in the world.”
Chile, who won their opening match in Group B against Australia, face Spain at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro aware that a win would almost guarantee their place in the next round and could dump Spain out of the competition.
Sampaoli said Spain had been the better team against the Dutch in the first half of their game. But he also saw signs that some Spanish players were suffering from tiredness after competing for various major titles with their domestic clubs.
Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz told reporters the South American side would try to stick to their usual style of closing down the opposition in midfield and launching fast attacks.
“We will be meeting a very hungry Spain and the elimination of the ruling world champions would be historic for us,” he said.
Sampaoli said he would see if Juventus midfielder and Chile linchpin Arturo Vidal would be able to play “a few minutes” against Spain. Vidal played 60 minutes in Chile’s 3-1 win over Australia on Friday, despite having cartilage surgery in May.
Writing by William Schomberg. Editing by Patrick Johnston